Whether you are a jazz fan, or a country music fan, New Orleans isn’t like anywhere else in the world, sometimes you can even forget what continent you are on. It is so unique – full of life, depth and feeling – that by the end of your stay you will have fallen in love with the place.
Without further ado, let us have a look at the most stylish places to stay and the best things to do in New Orleans, starting with that famous river – the Mississippi.
Explore the Mississippi
You cannot visit New Orleans without a riverboat cruise on the Mississippi. After all, riverboats have been on the Mississippi since 1807. During the industrial revolution of the 1800s and 1900s, riverboats propelled by steam engines transported goods and people along the Mississippi, increasing the size and wealth of cities like St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans.
These days the steamboats are designed to appeal to tourists that like a river cruise. Some riverboats are also hotels and casinos. With the large paddle wheels on the side, these Victorian-style multi decked vessels are called showboats – floating entertainment centers appealing to tourists and locals alike.
Steamboat Natchez is steam-powered, and the Creole Queen paddle wheeler is diesel-electric powered. What these boats have in common is that they are famous replicas offering cruises and dining experiences.
One such dining experience is the Creole Queen Dinner and Jazz Cruise where you can enjoy the romantic views of the south whilst sipping on cocktails listening to some smooth jazz music – all before sitting down to a gorgeous Creole buffet dinner.
If that doesn’t quite take your fancy there is still plenty of other attractions that New Orleans has to offer.
Things to Do
It may not be to everyone’s taste, but we love a cemetery, and New Orleans has one of the most famous cemeteries in the world – Lafayette Cemetery No.1. A historic cemetery founded in 1833 which was designed to house tombs and mausoleums and was inspired by the Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
If you don’t fancy Lafayette Cemetery, then head to the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. OMSA focuses on presenting art from New Orleans and the American South which provides the visitors’ insight into the culture and heritage of the region.
Too much culture? How about a visit to Frenchman Street to take look at all the jazz and blues clubs that it has to offer?
Frenchmen Street is a ‘local’s Bourbon Street’, the spot that homegrown folk go to listent o music and relax away from all the hustle and bustle of the touristy places.
We recommend starting your tour of Frenchmen Street with Igor’s Checkpoint Charlie. Igor’s bar looks like a rough punk music bar from the outside and feels pretty gritty, but once inside, the music is fantastic. The decor may not be to everyone’s taste – personally, we loved the traditional bordello feel – but it is a great chance to listen to some live music.
If you are determined to go to Bourbon Street here is some insight into the destination – appropriately enough, the street, then located in the colony of New France, was named after the French Royal House of Bourbon, the drink came after.
Suitably rowdy, Bourbon Street runs through 13 blocks and attracts bachelor and bachelorette parties to the strip clubs, clubs and bars. While you are there, try the Absinthe House. The bar dates back to 1806, making it older than some states in America and has accumulated some famous patrons along the way, like Franklin Roosevelt and Oscar Wilde.
They serve Creole cuisine at its finest. One of our highly-recommend dishes is the “swamp pig” pasta. It may sound horrible, but it is actually a delicious casserole made with crawfish tails and smoked pork belly. Other items that are worth trying are the fresh oysters and the famous BBQ shrimp.
A local top-tip – try Mandina’s Restaurant, a family-owned venue established in 1913. Mandina’s has Italian heritage dating back to Sabastian Mandina who came to New Orleans from Palermo in 1898.
Nowadays the cuisine is a fabulous mixture of Creole and Cajun dishes with a dash of old-style Italian cooking – just don’t tell everyone we told you NOLA’s best-kept secret.
Now that you have eaten your fill of fantastic authentic food, it is now time to look at where you’ll put your weary feet up after a day of exploring this wonderful city.
Hotels in New Orleans
It is essential to have a great hotel to stay in when you are traveling so that you have a home away from home. Choose your base with care as you will need a relaxing place to go back to after a fun-filled day in the city, and there are few hotels better than Windsor Court.
The hotel is in the business district, and five minutes walk from the heart of the French Quarter with views of the Mississippi River.
The Windsor Court Hotel has 316 rooms and suites offering the best in style and luxury. Private balconies with panoramic views of the skyline are standard. If you’re pushing the boat out stay in the one-bedroom Premium Suite that even has a wet bar area separate from the living room.
While we love the Windsor Court maybe you would prefer to stay somewhere with a bit more sway and swagger? Perhaps a boutique hotel with a great heritage? Then look no further than The Henry Howard Hotel in the Garden District. Constructed in 1867 the hotel is a double gallery fronted townhouse, lovingly turned into a boutique hotel.
With 18 glorious rooms, the hotel is a combination of tradition and modern-day luxury. The Henry Howard has a balconied courtyard making it perfect for watching the Mardi Gras parades pass by outside – a New Orleans tradition that you will not want to miss.